Inspiring practices illustrated recent developments on partnership building across Europe, featuring successful examples of collaborative working at the local level to improve people’s well-being, quality of life and promote social inclusion on the basis of principles, such as proactivity, citizens’ participation, the integration of health and social care and the increasing use of evidence to inform practice.

Addressing demographic change in an inclusive way

In Germany, ESN member Deustcher Verein (the Association of Public and Private Welfare) partnered up with “SONG” (the Network for Social Change) and the association of German cities. Together, they have successfully implemented the so called local welfare mix. This combination of informal and formal support was embodied by the Lebensräume für Jung und Alt example, a multigenerational home outside the family. There, neighbours, relatives, professionals and the municipality work together around older people. A Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis has shown a significant socio-economic impact and positive effects for the whole welfare system.

Proactive social action at city level: the Flemish example

In Belgium, the Flemish cities of Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Mechelen presented four examples of how to tackle social under-protection, defined as the non-take up of benefits by a large number of citizens. To do so, a proactive social action approach was adopted, with cities detecting child poverty through unpaid school bills (Antwerp), creating social networks for older people (Bruges), guiding recipients through the administrative maze (Gent), and helping families in their own homes (Mechelen).

Integrating health and social care

Catalonia (Spain) has implemented an interdepartmental plan for integrated health and social care to overcome fragmentation of responsibilities and funding streams, diverging work cultures and levels of service provision across regions.

In the South of Italy, 28 municipalities in the Campania Region have aimed to provide users with a coordinated response from a multi-disciplinary team through the Unified Access Point (Porta Unica di Accesso). The workshop showcased individualised and coordinated care pathways, from an initial thorough needs assessment to the provision of appropriate care.Securing children through permanent placement

Securing permanent placement for children and young people

In Scotland, a partnership of CELSIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children), the Scottish Government and Local Authorities has been key in reducing unnecessary delay and enhancing permanence for looked after children. The workshop presented the whole thinking and methodology for change. At the core of the project is the test and learn quickly model, which has proved to be very efficient in engaging stakeholders and fostering teamwork. A similar logic was applied in Aarhus, Denmark, where evidence-based methods were used to implement the ‘housing first’ programme for homeless youth. A similar logic was applied in Aarhus, Denmark, where evidence-based methods were used to implement the ‘housing first’ programme for homeless youth (find video here).

Bridging the gap

Across Europe, different stakeholders and services have responded to new challenges brought about by the economic crisis and lack of funding by developing effective local partnerships between professionals and sectors and focusing on programmes that have proved to work.

More from the 23rd European Social Services Conference